Sahuarita Times: Voters to Decide on District Override this November

“This November, local [Sahuarita] voters will be asked to support Proposition 471 for a renewal of a Maintenance and Operations (M & O) budget measure approved for the Sahuarita Unified School District (SUSD) back in November of 2014. The passage of this M & O override renewal is crucial, as many teacher and staff salaries are currently funded by the monies from the override. Without continuation of the tax that funds it, those same jobs will likely be cut.

M & O overrides are used for operational costs, like salaries. They require voter approval, and are limited to 7 years (with a phase-down in the last 2 years). Statewide, teachers are being forced to do more with less, and with continued growth and no additional financial support from the state to help bear the burdens, districts have to find creative ways continue supplying key programs. Budget measures like the M & O override help ensure that quality can continue despite funding challenges faced by the district.

Currently, the original override is in year 3 of 7. A voter approved renewal will help ensure that key positions won’t have to be cut, beginning next year, to prepare for the reductions in funds that would result when the override phases down and ends. If the override is renewed in November by voters, the district expects that there will be no increase in taxes.

Positions including some in athletics, school counselors, music specialists, fine arts, physical education, NJROTC and additional staff that helps to reduce class sizes for kindergarten through third grade are all funded with these monies. In addition, instructional aids (for individualized instruction), technology assistants, security monitors and security/facilities are paid for by the funds.

SUSD Governing Board member, Dalia Zimmerman, commented on the programs made possible by the override saying, “The Sahuarita Unified School District has intentionally decided to use the Maintenance and Operations Override funds to provide for over 105 student centered positions in our school district. The positions include our award winning NJROTC program, security, classroom aids, and the fine arts.”

She continued: “Talking specifically about the arts, which are also incorporated into NJROTC, they are a powerful tool to help our kids. The children learn to critique themselves, and reflect on newly learned skills (such as how to play the saxophone, learn self-discipline, and goal setting). Through my walks on campuses I have heard more than one child say that it is because of the arts that they are encouraged and show up daily at school, sometimes very early in the day. Programs like the arts can strongly inspire children to continue on through graduation.”

According to the district, the average cost to a homeowner last year within the district amounted to $11.77/month (per every $100,000 assessed home value).

Dr. Valenzuela commented on the importance of the override saying, “The continuation of this local override program supports high quality public education in our community, which creates shared benefits in education, economic development, workforce investment, and total quality of life. This advances the future growth and prosperity of our community. It is a “win-win” proposition for all.””